Belfast Telegraph

Girl, five, dies in Roscommon blaze

A five-year-old girl was killed in a suspected arson attack at her father's house in Co Roscommon just over a day after her mother gave birth to twins.

Marie Connolly was found dead in an upstairs bedroom of the home in Boyle after the blaze ripped through the terraced home in the middle of the night.

Her father Richard had been looking after her and her two sisters Lauren, aged eight and Naomi aged six, who survived the fire. The 27-year-old is believed to have leapt from a first floor window with the older girls in his arms.

Mr Connolly, described by locals and neighbours as popular and a devoted dad, shared the Termon Road house with his brother John.

Frank Feighan, local Fine Gael TD who knows the Connolly family, visited the scene of the tragedy.

"I was at the house and it was very, very sad. I saw for myself the damage and I can see the community is in shock," he said.

Marie's mother Teresa Keane, Mr Connolly's former partner, gave birth to twin girls on Saturday and was discharged on Monday.

Gardai believe the fire was started deliberately with initial inquires focused on whether the back door was forced open. No accelerant has been recovered, the gardai said.

One line of inquiry being examined was whether there was a row earlier on Sunday night or on Saturday involving Mr Connolly's brother and another man in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Jane Suffin, Sinn Fein Mayor of Boyle, said the Connolly's wide circle of friends were rallying around. "Reality has not even hit home and I don't think it will for a few days. The family are blown apart - total devastation," she said.

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